WordCamp Denver 2018: In which I learned a lot while preparing to teach something and I talked very fast

Somehow City of the Plains
feels relatively local to me, even though it is 2 full hours in the air to get to and from this high altitude city. Compared to placed like Belgrade or Boston that is basically no real travel time. There are also a lot of similarities between my part of California and that part of Colorado, with all the natural history and airport way outside the downtown area. I was not there for the great outdoors or to sneak into the Underground Music Festival. I got to return to this gem of the West to rejoice with my fellow WordPress community together in person at WordCamp Denver 2018

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

No WordCamp would be complete without the speakers, sponsors and organizers getting together for a little celebration for making the whole thing happen. We are all volunteers in this, even those of us who are paid by companies to represent those companies, we still are giving up our weekends and nights and mental energy to make sure the camps happen. It takes a lot of work to organize one of these things, so having a special event where we just celebrate that fact is always a positive experience. This time around we went up to Blackbird Public House for some pizza and craft beverages. Such a great time was had an a new hashtag was born!

Day 1

This camp has a notably later start time, with registration not even starting until 9:00 am, a full hour later than most camps. This meant I could sleep a touch longer and enjoy some coffee before I left the hotel. I gotta say this time around the percolated stuff the volunteers made was superior to the hotel coffee, not an often repeated feat. Candy and snacks flowed throughout the day, thanks in part to the GreenGeeks crew bringing more candy than is healthy for a conference 5 times the size of this one. Lunch was OK. Sandwiches and chips and such.

Sticker Giant’s World Record Sticker Ball

Sticker Giant not only supported this camp by donating lots of awesome stickers, which they do for many a camp, but this time they rolled out the big one! They hold the Guinness World Record for the Largest Ball of Stickers ever!. Coming into the environments at around 231lbs we got to add to it at the event in what was on the schedule as a Goofy Activity. People had a blast adding a whole new layer devoted to the WordPress space. It was a treat to get to help make a record even better.

Dinner and After Party

There has been a noticeable increase in the last couple years of plant based food fans or at least people willing to give it a whirl. Every time I have gone to Denver since making the switch myself, I have been encouraged to go to Watercourse Foods and now I know why. Some of the best prepared and thought through 100% vegan cuisine I have yet to experience. Some of us gathered for a pre-party meal to make sure we had a full stomach before heading to the after party and drinking the wonderful concoctions brewed up by the fine folks at Fermaentra Tap Room. Nothing against their beers, but the real star of their menu had to be the kombucha. Several folks who have never tried it before and folks like me who were so-so on the beverage, were utterly delighted by this bright, refreshing citrusy goodness that they poured. Good job for selecting this sopt and great job to the brewers! Just to not it down, an attempt at WCKaraoke was made over at Ogden Street South, but the evening got away from us before we could make a real collective go of it.

Day 2

The second day was all Workshops. A portion of the previous day’s attendees returned to learn things like SEO and WP-CLI (which I was teaching, more on that later). We were met with coffee and pretty great breakfast burritos, which is one of my favorite breakfast options. The vegan option had corn and mushrooms and I think broccoli. Lunch was pizza. One of the nice things about pizza is that unless you put cheese on it, it can easily be plant based. Unfortunately no tweets exist of either of these offerings I can find, so here is a generic picture of the day with a mention of the food.


Opening remarks

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Loop?
Chris Reynolds

I’ll admit it. I have never understood The Loop for exactly the same reasons it took Chris so long to wrap his head around it: The name makes it sound like a magic black box. At some point with magic, you have to throw your hands in the air and just say “I can’t explain it, it just works.” We, however, are doing computer science! Chris’ slides were not just informative and broke down The Loop better than I have seen in a talk yet, but they were also hilarious. Using knock knock jokes to explain ‘if ( have_posts )’ will be burned into my memory forever. I can honestly say this was a talk that pulled me over a line of understanding and I will be forever grateful to Chris.

Raw Notes:
Issue is the loop make it sound like a magic black box
What is it?
codex definition. HUh?
If have posts : whole have posts : the_post
if ( have_posts())
knock knock, do you have posts?
simple conditional that returns if there are posts, 0 or 1
keep going while it returns true
what are we doing
the_post – sets up the current post
think through all ‘the’ functions
the_ID, the_title, ect
the_posts makes all those work
setup_postdata( $post );
what does it al mean?
the magic
DB interactions
/?s=whosis chris reynolds
SQL query
s post status publish
combine all these things
query = new WP_Query([
‘s’ => ‘reynolds’;
code missing
And even more combining and complex searches and refinements
arrays can even be passed in
using queries
used query_posts
national park service different pats of the help center different parts of site
take taxonomy term and add to the search form so only search in taxonomy
in this case Museum management
difference between this and wp_query
get_post returns: big array of post objects
dump out a query, you get a whole bunch more stuff, array of post is way tat the bottom
it will tell you the SQL query it used to find the posts
you can debug the query itself
beneath that is array of post objects
doing the same things in general but
query_posts (don’t use it!)
set up the posts but does something
codex say don’t use it
it overrides the main query
manipulates the posts you are in, that is bad
Slides: s3q.uswcden2018-loop

The Basics of Building a WooCommerce Website
Jamie Schmid

I love hearing Jamie present. She presents a ton of data and I always walk away with new perspective on at least a few points. This talk met that expectation and I now know that you always, always, always want to have a backup payment processor already fully thought through from the start. I honestly went in with an attitude that “Paypal is good enough for me” and left saying, “Well, let’s make sure I test Stripe….”. Also her quick point on having a client walk you all the way through multiple packaging and shipping scenario is huge. As a small time online store owner, I would never have thought to make a plan for x items vs x+1 items but those shipping conditions matter and will cost a lot of time to figure out after the project is delivered.

Raw Notes:
Intro to WooCommerce talk, her first one
plan, things she ran into people were not expecting
also, general order of setting things up out of the box
Start with planning
Your product, types and attributes
your requirements, POS, billing, accounting
payment processing
shipping and tax
products, not all products the same, what is different
Reqs, do they have brick and mortar? Need POS?
a surprise later is expensive
coming from etsy or Shopify or what?
can it be imported at all? is it easy, almost never.
Payment processing
check the requirements, do you need a backup (yes)
company PayPal, stripe, authorize.net, si this determined?
PCI compliance? this is hard for some hosts
Shipping and Tax.
ask the client to map the whole shipping process
figure out the rules with them
shipping rules, scenarios are import to walk through
Site Mapping, super important
terms and conditions
return policy, they absolutely need this
sizing chart
product pages
Now we get to Build it! If we have all the above info, this is ready to start
The Woo Wizard is actually really helpful to get going from scratch
demo time!
Jetpack and TaxJar
wants to drill into payment gateways
don’t process on your site if you can help it

My Website Is Live, Now What Do I Do With It?
Michele Butcher-Jones

Sometimes you wish someone would just sit you down and tell you what the deal is. Like, what you need to know to be successful and what mistakes you can easily avoid if you see warning signs. Michele did exactly this to a room full of freelancers and agency folk at camp. I love this kind of straight talk. No fluff, no ‘touchy feely’ sentiment, just solid advice, learned the hard way by successfully doing this stuff over a career. This is one of the talks I can point to when people ask me what makes FOSS different than other ways of going about software: We stand up and tell the world exactly how to do it better and never hide what we learned under a bushel. We gotta let it shine!

Raw Notes:
when you inherit a site, they are clueless a lot
Expect them not to know and have to explain these pieces
Hosting and FTP info
logging in for the first time
what plugins are there and why?
whats in the media folder
what is a post vs a page, people will ask!
What theme?
always use a child theme
‘it’s what makes it pretty’ when explaining to clueless client
update the site as soon as information changes
security for your sites
update! Update! UPDATE!!!
security plugins
regular checkups
always make backups
off server backups
without doing this, you can(will) get hacked
lose traffic and interest if not updated

Keynote: Why Community is More Important than Networking
Angela Bowman

A Keynote at the end of the day? Yes, that is what they did and I applaud them for it! I love the idea that we can learn all day long and then, before we go our separate ways to get ready for the after party or back to our families, we can get in one place and be on the same page with one big, well presented idea. And boy howdy, was this well presented. Angela took us on a journey and I think illustrated to a lot of folks that no one is born and expert in WP, or anything else. We all learn from and are encouraged by the people around us, so let’s get to it and start encouraging more people. Let’s connect more. Let’s stop asking ‘what do you do?’ and start asking ‘what do you love?’. We have so much knowledge to share and so much to learn. Only together can we keep advancing and growing.

Raw Notes:
(I got in a little late thanks to cleaning up the sponsor booth)
her history, working with Nonprofits
learned some CSS
then learned about CSS
started on WP on v2.0
outside the box thinking
alone, didn’t know anyone else doing this
meetup group of graphic designers
pivoted her life
partners and supporters
possibilities grow so much more
learned dos and don’t together with Bethany Siegler
started teaching classes together to learn
first WordCamp in 2010
WP is bigger on the inside
her first talk soon thereafter
camps are not just about free shirts
also about stickers and such
people put a lot of hope into WordPress
got to learn from each other
build relationships, it is why we are here
don’t begin conversations with what do you do?
something different
asking what they do outside of their job
how can I help you vs what can you do to me
You never know how you are going to affect other people

My Sessions

Nobody wants a website. They want results!

I ended up talking really, really fast. Jamming the same amount of information into half the time it took me to give the same talk last time certainly interjected a lot of energy into the thing. It was fantastic to have a pretty big room reverberating that energy back to me. I loved all the feedback I got afterward and it was super awesome to meet so many new people. I hope I can give this talk a few more times before it evolves into another form. Thanks to all that came out!

WP-CLI – Don’t Fear The Command Line

Giving workshops is fun, but I would put it as a bigger challenge overall than a talk. Both definitely take preparation and time and a lot of mental energy, but in a general lecture style WordCamp session you rarely stop and help someone try to figure out to debug a composer issue. I hope people got a lot out of it and I was thrilled to do it, but wow, I sitting and writing this later the same day I delivered it, I think I need to put many hours into a revamp before I submitted for a 3 hour workshop on this subject again. I also thought that I might just require everyone to install Lando before we started so we would all have the same issues in the same environments. Still, very glad I got the opportunity to learn as much as I did while doing this and hope others found it useful as well.

Wrapping Up

Denver is an interesting town in a lot of ways to me, but the real joy is the community. Being a shorter camp and the fact that I was there solo meant I saw far fewer talks than I normally do, but wow, those hallways conversations that I did not take notes on for public consumption taught me a whole lot. Speaking to people about what they are passionate about and helping to further some of their thoughts around this market and various technology points. I always learn so much. I think that if WordCamp.org was an accredited university I would have a Masters by now.
I am already looking forward to the next time I get to go to Denver for any reason, and though it is a full year out I am already looking forward to an even bigger and better WordCamp Denver 2019!

A case for Markdown and the WP 5.0 Editing Experience

(Note to my loyal readers, yes this is not my normal format, but I wanted a platform to say this out loud, so here it is.)

I am pretty darn excited about the possibilities of the WordPress 5.0 editing experience. You might still be calling it Gutenberg and that is OK, but when WP 5.0 drops it will just be ‘the editor’. The idea of manipulating my content with drag and drop and no more messy handwritten shortcodes is broadly appealing. I have a few awesome personal anecdotes about why this is so awesome but the more I talk to agencies the more I see that one of the serious concerns is giving the content editor too much control. If you can insert columns or other strange blocks ‘where they don’t belong’ on a landing page, all hell is going to break loose with brand standards.

Enter the Markdown…

What if instead of freaking out about how to retrain our clients, we seize the opportunity to help them embrace a much cleaner path that would require almost no change in their tool chain and less than 30 minutes to master (with a cheat sheet handy of course).
Markdown was specifically created as “an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, and optionally convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML)”
Do you want to something in italics? word
Do you want to bold something? word
The notation is very stable and can be written in Word, Google Docs, notepad or (insert your favorite text editor here). Hundreds of resources are available online to help you learn it and there are so many reference materials, that might be the most overwhelming part.

And what does this have to do with the WordPress 5.0 editing experience?

You can cut and paste or WP-CLI post create from a text file into Gutenberg and it will correctly transform it into beautiful HTML. Once there, you hit one (1) button from a dropdown called ‘Convert to blocks’ and then you have every line break as it’s own block. And the kicker here, is if you just paste in a URL to some media asset it can recognize, like a tweet or a youtube video, it will just auto form a proper block around it.

This is literally random, from wikipedia

Once the ‘base content’ is there in blocks, well, the art of setting this image here and that image there and such is actually quite fun. In fact this post was made exactly this way and yes, there are random pictures from wikipedia throughout it to prove a point. I did not type those on my original post with you can see over on my Github, here: https://github.com/mcdwayne/PublicDocs/blob/master/A-Case-For-Markdown.txt

Why not just use the 5.0 editor to write your content?

For me personally, this comes down to workflow and tool choice. I have burned myself way too many times asking my browser not to crash, refresh or otherwise forget what I am currently doing in that window while typing. Auto save points like Google Docs can make that better, but you know what never forgets? Sublime text. You know what works on airplanes? Sublime text. I do however accept that I am in, what was once descried to me as, the 0.2% of content creators who think this way currently.

But what if, instead of giving your content creators a new window and a lot of shiny new toys that you might be able to lock down but would raise so many more questions than answers, what if instead you showed them a way to be consistent with their brand content and made formatting and publishing this content a very simple, well understood process that would let you then better explain the entire editor slowly to their trusted team members. Let every intern and new person write all the Google Docs in the world, but only the trusted get to use the WP Editor.

What world does that workflow exist in?

Don’t copy the URL, just Copy Image and paste that, 5.0 Editor 

That is a data point I don’t have. I will admit I am not doing a lot of client work where content creation is something I am involved with and have no idea if there is an audience for this beyond getting devs to turn in content faster, but I wanted to say my peace about it somewhere. Let me know on Twitter or in the comments what you think.

Thanks for listening. Next post should go back to my normal format.

Stanford DrupalCamp: The first time I have ever seen it rain in Palo Alto and a shorter camp than usual

I was super excited to be able to once again go to a camp close enough to SF that I didn’t have to take an airplane. Not to say I don’t love flying and SFO and all, but there is a niceness to being able to get in a car and when I exit to be where I am going. This is especially true when going somewhere as beautiful as the Stanford campus. FOr the second half of this event, weather was perfect as you could hope for, but day one had a little rain come our way. But even though it was a tad grey outside, it was bright, dry and warm inside as the Stanford and area Drupal community came together for a day and a half of sessions and conversations at Stanford Drupal Camp 2018.

Food and Fun

Since this event started in the afternoon on Friday, there was no morning coffee or lunch provided. Fortunately for me, the camp takes place at the fully stocked and staffed College of Law, so getting some caffeine and some grub was pretty simple. I didn’t even have to go outside. Soon after we started, catering set up some coffee for us and it was OK. I’ll rate it as pretty standard conference coffee.

Happy Hour

The camp organizers tried something new this year and rather than a single afterparty on the second day, they had a smaller happy hour each evening immediately following the last session of each day. We had chips and salsas and wine and beer and other goodies. But the real joy of this was having a chance to say goodbye to folks and have those hallway conversations that you were unable to have while sessions were rolling along. The other very nice thing is it was very welcoming to everyone to just swing through on their way out, even if they could only just stop by for a minute or two. No one had to have too long of a night or had to move their car to participate. We even had a little background music pumping, not too loud, but definitely gave the room atmosphere.

Day 2

We, the sponsors and catering folks, arrived early on Saturday morning to find that facilities had failed to get the building unlocked. While it was fun to hang out outside on a beautiful morning, it did make us a bit rushed to grab our coffee and, for those who partook, pastries that were offered before the first session of the day kicked off. I opted for green tea.


While a free event, we were still given a free lunch. Pretty typical sandwich fare for a camp with chips and apples to round it out, plus the leftover pastries. I opted to take a quick stroll around campus to soak up the beautiful day and recover from giving back to back sessions in the morning. I ended up getting a nice little bowl of tofu and eggplant over in the main student center. I also got to sit outside for a little bit when I returned and before the afternoon sessions kicked back up.

Happy Hour Day 2

See Happy Hour above.

Unfortunately no tweets of this event exist that I can find. So, here is a tweet about the awesome chips I discovered as a result of this event, Garden Of Eatin’s Red Hot Blues. For sure buying these if I see them on a shelf.


Opening Remarks:

This is the 9th year of this event. They explained the logic of the event was to have a Friday and Saturday camp so Stanford workers could more easily attend day one and the general community could more easily attend day two. The sessions schedule reflected this with more of a focus on Stanford specific content opening day.

Keynote: Stanford Off-Campus Learning Opportunities (SOLO)
Pauline Larmaraud

One of the challenges that most universities face, as well as large scale enterprises with many autonomous parts, is reinvention of the wheel by each division or department. In fact, one of the main reasons Stanford DrupalCamp exists in the first place is to give the Drupal users and excuse to talk to one another and learn what other departments are doing. It does not need to be this way though. If you build a better system and evangelize it correctly in the ecosystem, then you can unite everyone and empower them with better tools. While I was not sure what this talk would be about when I first sat down, I was very grateful to hear a case study of exactly such a new and more useful system being built and spread throughout the Stanford organization. It was proof positive that we can collaborate and use free and open source software to make our world better.

Raw Notes:
Off Campus study is good,
study abroad is very healthy and helps do things you can’t do on campus
each department though was working alone
Siloed from other design and reinventing the wheel every year
listened to stakeholders, really listened
what they really needed was an application management system
These groups that do off campus are not connected to a central system
each independent
had to build trust and buy in and backlog
user needs first
delivered early and often as they could
they were happy right off and on a good path
opened up more and gave more feedback
Partnership between Stanford OIA + Aten
was an agile process
They are agile, not in the buzzword sense
Agile is a communication framework
to get in alignment is the goal
the 4 values
1. individuals and interactions over processes and tools
2. working software over comprehensive docs
3. client collaboration over negotiation
4. responding to change
Really though
1. Talk to each other
2. Don’t just plan it, build it!
3. Work with one another
4. Be ready to pivot
get to a product ASAP and get it in front of users
Agile sprint ceremonies: planning, standup, review, retrospective
they used to do internal retrospective, with this process is the first time they did customer facing
Agile because they worked on it, found what worked for them
the platform they built:
browsing opportunities was key goal
immediately find what they are looking for
Drupal makes it easy to define a content type
CTA up and to the right makes it easy to find and draw more people to apply
Applying for opportunities
had to have a review and approval process
pull in other student info, like records and GPA, etc
MAIS data
made checklists page
Steps change often
people can give feedback on each step
Results, 2,200 applications in year one
they think it is better than last year, but that data is not available
increased engagement,
over 30 units using this for in country and international opportunites
even more collaboration

If it Ain’t Broke: How to tell if your website needs a full rebuild or a focused fix

I will always admit that I don’t work at an agency nor am I a professional site developer. However, I end up getting asked a lot by people outside the space questions about their website as if I did have such a role. This session armed me with a great approach to helping those people who ask ‘how should I fix my website?’ It is hard to know if a site needs some tweaks or if it is time for a whole hog rewrite. now, with a handfull of questions I feel I can better steer people, at a high level, toward an appropriate answer.

Raw Notes:
Only 3 main points
You have to have a website
Your website has other costs than time and money
Opportunity costs
switching costs
reality: tech moves very fast
apple watch example
What does that mean?
mobile optimized
fast load times
mobile fundamentally different than the desktop
Google loves good content laid out well
when is it a good time for a focused fix vs rebuild
they offer help at Kanopi to plot best path forward
POP Quiz!
Do you clearly understand your audience and their decision making journey
1, 2 ,3, 4?
How hard is there to make decisions in your org?
Any pressing events, deadlines that require this refreshed site?
so you currently have capacity for a rebuild (funds, staff time, opportunity costs?
how old is your website technology?
Is your site responsive?
Add up the score
Low: rebuild
Mid range: need more data
High: focused fix time
Reality – smart strategy & strong technical foundation leads to optimal website health
Swoop and Poop – done all the work, then Sr. Team member is not involved, but comes in and poops on the whole process, then leave.
need to have SMART goals
website should help achieve your mission
helps get stakeholders on the same page
How optimal is your user experience?
Do your homework!
analytics, heat maps, surveys, interviews, user testing
take the time to do it right
Also need to have a need for speed

resist: Open Source, Open Data, and the Government
Jordon Koplowicz

If you know me at all, you wil know that I love and belive in information being free and moving fast. I think free and open source software is a major component of this and it is why I do what I do for a living. This talk was the perfect marriage of new data sets to explore and play with and fundamentals about why this is important stuff. Highly recommend going through his slides for all the links.

Raw Notes:
Vital Signs project at Stanford
12 different agencies
bay area metro
taking all the data an presenting as visualization
was easy to convence them to be open
Open Source Government
been done for a long time, but adoption never been better
whitehouse.gov is something we brag about for opensource
many, many government agencies and divisions and universities using it
sfgov.org, many agencies within the cities and counties
central department of technologies does point to open source
UC system using starter kit all OSS, Drupal
government open data
standford open data: SNAP, Opendata, EarthWorks, Open Policing
How does this help resist?
open data means the truth is still out there
we can still make our own conclusions empower citizens
give people the power to play with data
OSS: we are stronger together
also contributing back
whitehouse petition platform
18f: US Web Design standards on github
Vital Signs: Tableau Public module
SF using drupal themes DAHLIA and SFCOIT
What do I do now
1 Use OSS – larger user base helps
2 Contribute back – share a fork
revolves arouns how you are giving people permission to use your IP
3 Use open data – be vocal about it. Only way to communicate is to let people know you are using it. Very rewarding to the people workng on this
4 Publish your data – publish or perish is still a problem but there are solutions
Slides: http://exy.gy/egRl

My Sessions

Stanford selected 3 of my talks this year.

1 So you want to speak at a camp? Yes please!

I gotta admit, when the time came to start this talk there were only 2 people in the room, which reminded me of The Evaporators song Half Empty Halls. More people showed up but we all had a sit down conversation and I was very pleased with how it went overall. Both those people who were there at the start said they knew they were for sure going to be giving a talk moving ahead. Made me feel really good.

2 Let’s Learn Git. No Excuses!

While I didn’t get extra time for it, I tried my best to teach Git as a workshop instead of ust a talk. There is a LOT to Git and impossible to cover it all. Feedback was great and helpful this time and I know one person at least got a better understanding of the basic ideas. I think Git boils down to forward in time, backwards in time, parallel universes and conversations before a merge. Even one person walking away with a better grasp,

3 Nobody Wants A Website. They Want Results!

I really, really enjoy giving this talk. My favorite part is the Q&A, which I have converted into a group conversation section. So much learning and great examples from the crowd, including one person who had their intake form mechanized to help people qualify themselves before any human needed to get involved from her company. So many good points made by the attendees, I was proud to be part of the discussion.

Wrapping Up

Stanford is the birthplace of so much innovation. The very first host to host connection ever between machines was between UCLA and Stanford. The first autonomous vehicles were proposed here. Stanford gave us the Augmentation Research Center which gave us the Mother of All Demos.
While it might not be the first Stanford DrupalCamp, it was an awesome one. I can’t wait for next year’s event!

Quick final note about this post:
As of today I am using a new content deployment process leveraging CLI and my Dev and Test environments on Pantheon. If you are interested in how I am doing this, for this post the command I ran was:

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mcdwayne/PublicDocs/master/NotesITookAtCampsAndBlogDrafts/StanfordDrupalCamp2018-blog-draft.txt | sed -n ‘1!p’ | terminus wp mcdwaynedotcom.live — post create –post_author=1 –post_title=’Stanford DrupalCamp: The first time I have ever seen it rain in Palo Alto and a shorter camp than usual’ –post_name=’StanfordDrupalCamp2018′ –count=1 –post_status=publish –

Still early version, hope to have this automated from a push to github auto rebuilds the content and in future hope to build some testing for content and then make all this work with Gutenberg. Currently I am relying on markdown editor, which is a tad out of date, but early testing is promising for Gutenberg, not ready for showing my work there yet.

WordCamp Miami: Gators, Good Community and why is it so cold inside every building

For the first time ever I traveled to the Magic City. Having been to many other cities in the Sunshine State, I was looking forward to being at one of the largest of the WordCamps and see my WPLife family there. What followed was a few days of blazing sunshine, amazing adventures and a few sad notes. All in all though I am glad I traveled to the FIU Campus to attend WordCamp Miami 2018.

Food and Fun

Arriving a day or so early, I got to visit with my community family and had so many good times. The highlight of all of this was my invitation from Carole and Alain to go on a Fan Boat tour of the Everglades. I had some reservations about this but was very relieved they had found a very legit and overall friendly to the animals native amarican owned and operated Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours who offered no ‘gator wrassling’ (real thing offered by some of these outfits) or other such shenanigans. Seeing alligators and getting to ask our guide all sorts of questions around their habitat and behaviour was such an amazing experience. Also huge props to Marc B for driving and giving us all a lift back.

Pre-Camp Meetup (Cancelled)

There was a shadow that hung over the camp and that was the tragedy of the pedestrian bridge collapse. I wanted to mention it here and show reverence for the folks who are still in shock and suffering from this event. Here is a link to a story about what happened.
Out of respect, the organizers cancelled the pre-event meetup that was scheduled. I applaud this decision and think it showed grace.

Some of us still met for a small dinner and discussion. It was good to be around like minded people that night and we all reflected on how lucky we all were to have our health and our community.


Friday I got to go visit the Pantheon co-working space at WeWork in Miami. It was awesome to get to hang out with my amazing co-worker Lizzie, who I rarely get to see in person. This is one of the main issues with remote teams overall, some of the best people in the world you only see online most of the time.

Speaker Dinner

Friday night brought us back together to mentally ramp up for a full, full weekend. The speakers, volunteers and organizers got together at Dave and Busters at the Dolphin Mall. Not a lot of plant based food options at D&B, but the mall had Cilantro Fresh Mexican, which is the only place in the whole mall that had a ‘Vegetarians Welcome’ sign up. I just said “I’m vegan” when ordering and they were happy and accommodating about it. Back at D&B we got to play all manner of games and connect over quite a few libations. I was a touch sad when we had to roll out and go our separate ways to prep for the next day.

Well, I wasn’t so sad, some of us went the same way for one more night cap before bed. I had this amazing cherry barleywine at MIA Brauhaus. I was sad when I had to go home from there though.


Coffee, coffee, coffee! I love my coffee in the morning and it was OK at Miami. Lunch had a vegan wrap and BBQ options. I was super happy to get sweet potatoes and corn as well. I love me some sweet potatoes.

After Party

Right across campus, after a very full Saturday we went to the on-campus Chili’s. I was a tad hesitant about this, but $3.00 drink specials all evening and a really robust option for us plant based food lovers in form of a toco bar with veggie burger chunks, beans and rice with all the trimmings. In another room there were pool tables and some light karaoke happenings going on. There was also a massive patio with iguanas in a small pond below. Really a great time

Some of us found a WCKaraoke party as well afterward


Coffee was coffee, but there were also bagels. Good ones too.
Lunch was a touch of a let down for me as all options included meat or cheese. They were also all bean based, which for me is not an issue, but I am aware some people have legume allergies. Fortunately fellow plant enthusiast Matt Clancy ordered some tasty but not at all spicy Chinese food from Ho Wah. I completely understand accessibility to food is not the cheapest option and a lot of budget went into the literal 20 pounds of shwag I got, having options for any followers of the strict versions of any of these religious practices would be good as well.

Happiness Bar

While not a session and some people would argue does not fit into Food and Fun, I wanted to call out the awesome experience I got by participating in the Happiness Bar. This is one of the most rewarding parts of any camp. People come in with real problems and they leave with, in best case, real answers. In the worst case they leave knowing how to better look for answers. I was super happy to help one person with WP-CLI. They really wanted to get it working locally and thanks to the fact they were already using Local by Flywheel we get them to a working terminal in less than a minute. It was a proud moment.


Quick note: Wow this was a very busy camp. So busy, that I only got to get to a handful of sessions and they were all a bit shorter than I was used to. As a result I think only these four have enough notes to post.

It’s ALIVE! How I built the Wapuu Bot using Javascript, Slack and the WP API
Rick Tuttle

Everyone loves Wapuu. I don’t think this is too arguable. The little, normally yellow unofficial mascot of the WordPress community is pretty well recognized and inoffensively cute. But do you know the backstory? It is a fascinating read. Rick took this lovable critter and turned it, with the help of Michelle Schulp made a slack bot that could provide value to the WCMIA community with real time updates and responses when people interacted with it in channel. Very cool stuff. I didn’t take a ton of notes on the implementation details but that is what WordPress.tv is all about!

Japan 2009
then coffee wapuu thank to Michelle Schulp’s design
cafecitowapuu twitter account was born
slack app, send a recieve mesaages between endpoint
spanglish ‘no es facil’
WCMia site feeds this slack
can search @wapuu find ____
returns values
pulled WC schedule from the website
mongoDB for a caching layer
more fun to assign him a personality instead of just a pile of code
Wapuu is a ‘Bot user’ in this case
also a bot user app that can reply directly or mention in ambient content
Natural language processing is hard, lot of exceptions
schedule data from WP (npm request-promise)
fetch from wp-json/wp/v2/sessions
cache schedule data (formatted JSON) in MongoDB for quicker/easier retrieval
App used monk from Automattic
WP is really becoming a content repository
finds mentions and posts
likes serving up coffee
load of api and other resources/services used in slides
one of the hardest things is getting started

15 in 15 – The Story of WordPress
John James Jacoby

When you only have 15 minutes to give the entire history of a 15 year old project, you are going to leave a few details out. It was very interesting to hear what he left in though. He claimed there is a longer version of this talk, but I can’t find it on WordPress.tv at this point in time. Basically ‘it’s ugly’ – ‘it’s less ugly’ – ‘now it’s blueish’ – ‘the post editor works’ – ‘admin works’. Of course he said it far mor charmingly than I could.

Sourceforge code there but maintainers gone in 2003
Original wp.org was just ugly (very ugly)
slowly got better over time
dashboard was primitive
no theme support
adoption of 1.5 started growing
Dashboard area in WP 2, blue was introduced
post rows manage
meta boxes
no visual editors, precursor to post preview
custom field metadata exposed first time
if we cound re-write WP it would be like BBPress – ma.tt
2.5 first real Admin redesign
this is when some people first took WP seriously
2.7 revisions nitrdcused
still Kubrick in there
WP 3.0 Post editor, inwrtos to 2010 theme
3.2 ‘my account’ is JJJ’s fvorite things’ in WP

On Building Community From Twitter to IRL
Raquel Landefeld

Raquel is one of the best persons I have ever met, especially with regards to community building. I hold this concept pretty near and dear to my heart. It is always a pleasure to see her present as well. I loved her very straightforward advice, which I captured pretty poorly below given that I was hustling pretty quick between sessions and other duties that day.

We hide behind social media
What are motives?
what is the purpose?
connecting with people is what it is all about
not collecting business cards
intentional connecting and human relations building
make friends by being friends
shift focus to create relationships not just grow business

How To Get Involved in Open Source Communities
Karla Campos

I had not ever met Karla before, which I think is a symptom of never getting to go to Miami before. I felt an instant kinship with her, even though we didn’t get to interact too much. I could tell from her talk we shared a lot of the same values around what we are doing here. Making the world better one commit and one conversation at a time. She had a lightning talk, so not a ton of notes, but for sure a great rallying point at the camp that spurned a few good conversations. Worth a watch once the recording is public.

Wanted to build craigslist
found Joomla
got a job as marketing director Telemundo using OSS
May the course be with you.
Helping Others
Creating amazing things
popularity – for sure if people know about it, it helps
community – she didn’t know anyone in Miami, WP took her in

My Session

WP-CLI: Don’t Fear The Command Line

I have given a version of this talk a few times in 2017, but this year I stepped up my game a bit and built in a couple magic tricks. The first trick was I got through all 83 slides in under 25 minutes. The second was building a ‘racing script’ that build a pretty neat looking demo site in well under a minute, 24 to 39 seconds depending on variables i have no control over like wire speed and such. Matt Mullenweg himself snuck into the back of the room and I was super honored he mentioned my talk during his Q&A later in the day. I was also very happy to introduce a bunch of people to the scaffold block command for the first time. Such an amazing tool and it is in such a good position to help us well into the future.

Wrapping up

WordCamp Miami is one of the largest camps. One of the reasons it is so large is the number of children in attendance at Kids Camp. I didn’t participate in this and only am mentioning it here in my conclusion. It is one of the most inspirational parts of the whole darn camp. The literal future of the project and the internet itself rests in the hands of these kids and kids just like them, who are learning how to build plugins and manipulate JS. It is very exciting to know that we are not about to ‘age out’ as a project.

Miami was hot and there was a lot going on. Not sure I captured the event wholly here and that was never my intent. Will I be back for WCMIA 2019? Time will tell.

WordCamp Los Angeles: Having a birthday the same day as you give a talk makes your alerts go insane

WordCamp Los Angeles: Having a birthday the same day as you give a talk makes your alerts go insane

When I was a kid, I spent multiple birthdays at the annual convention for my church, since my dad was a pastor. I haven’t really thought about that in years, but I have been thinking about that as I travel more myself and my job lets me go to so many events. As a kid, I didn’t have a lot of choice with my venue of choice, but this time, it was all intentional and a very good time. I turned 39 while at one of my favorite events in the world, WordCamp Los Angels, aka: WCLAX.

Food and Fun

Post Beginner Day Lunch

The first time I had the opportunity to have a meal with my fellow WP people, was after the Beginner Day training I got to help teach (more on that later). The teachers visited lovely Pasadena, CA to get some of the most delicious food I have ever experienced in my life at My Vegan Restaurant. If you go, you have to get the vegan beef jerky. I honestly do not have words that describe this amazing dish. It was so good, a group of us went back the following night after the after party to get more jerky. I want to go back right now.

Speaker Dinner

Not too long after we ate way too much vegan food it was time to gather at Angel City Brewing. It was fantastic to see so many old friends and to meet a few new ones. The speakers were given awards! I now have a small trophy that says what tracks I spoke in. I don’t go chasing medals and ribbons, but when these tokens fall into my life I am super grateful! Thank you to the whole WordCamp LAX organizing team!

Day 1

Coffee was alright. I can honestly say when you are at the mercy of university catering, you have to be OK with anything wet. More and more lately I am defaulting to tea to start my day because it is harder to have a bad experience.
Lunch was efficient and pretty good. They had a vegan chicken option that was a little too close to the texture of real chicken. I actually had to confer with my fellow vegans, Marc Benzakein and Josh Pollock to double check my suspicion. We determined it was soy based and delicious.
In the afternoon there were snack bars and trail mix supplied. Very good stuff. Nothing to do with camp, but why you gotta ruin perfectly good trail mix with yogurt covered things? Raisins are great on their own, they don’t need dairy on them Planters. They just don’t. Still, huge thank you to the organizers for supplying this.

After Party

Immediately following the last session on Saturday night we started the official After Party. There was music and food and a bar with free drink tickets! We were outside in the Student Union Plaza and the weather could not have been better. No wind and a perfect ~70 degrees with a setting sun making it beautiful. Thanks again to the organizers for a fun networking function.


Not immediately following the party, but before a group us us went to bed, we hit up All Star Lanes, a bowling alley with Karaoke in the back bar area. This place has been a staple of the Eagle Rock neighborhood for many years and the building showed it. I had a great time, but there was a local who performed the best version of “If I Were A Boy” by Beyonce possible. I was so tired and this was so unexpected I literally had tears in my eyes. The power of singing together as a community, no matter what that community is, overwhelms me sometimes. One of my favorite birthday memories of all time! Thanks to everyone who came to make WCKaraoke a thing!

Day 2

The best part of the coffee service of day two was the left over granola bars and snacks from the previous day. Lunch was a duplicate of day one, slightly more green veggies than potato. It was a quick closing set of remarks and a huge send off from the organizing team, leaving us looking forward to next year.


Opening Remarks

Beginner day

I was very happy to ge to take part in Beginner Day at this camp. I got to contribute in 2 ways. First I got asked to teach part of the day! I was explaining that you had to get your site up on a server on the internet and you how to use a SFTP client, like CyberDuck, to accomplish this feat. Beginner is a relative term and a good portion of folks played along from their seats and got their files up to a site online. Some folks were a little lost, but it is important to expose ideas for those not quite there yet. I remember when it was a new concept to me as well. It was a pretty great feeling to take people through that process and have them come up later and ask follow up questions. One person even had some git questions for me. It felt awesome.
The second way I got to contribute was to build some demo sites for these students on Pantheon. To do this I learned how to build a bash script that could take in data from a CSV and produce a site on the platform and then hand it off gracefully to the student. I ran into a weird issue early on around the while loop, so the current version of the script requires echoing out the built commands into another script and running that, which seems excessive, but given that this ia a one off use case I decided not to spend too much time debugging the thing. If you want to take a look and let me know why the script would stop after only one row of data, but can echo through the entire csv just fine, the script lives here.

Discovering The WordPress REST API
Josh Pollock

Josh has a very straightforward presentation style and I really enjoy it. This is a really great example of a ‘teach a person to fish’ talk. I learn best by doing a thing and having the tool itself guide me along. This is part of why I love using WP-CLI and Terminus, because I can just try something and they will guide me along by suggesting what I might have meant. Not quite what this talk was about but it reminds me of that same idea. Still don’t comprehend enough to expand on it more than my raw notes.

Raw Notes:
Route discovery Rest API
Post users, comments, taxonomies, etc…
Philosophically a problem, can’t just teach “do this and then this” becuase each site is different
The REST API tells us that we can do with it
Don’t need to memorize these routes
learn how to process it and understand it, don’t memorize code only
/wp-json (like an index of all apis)
_links section of response”
tools for exploring APIs
Postman, ARC REST API -chrome extension
PAW – desktop app
JSONView – pretty printer for JSON
/wp-json – lear some things about the site
every route where it is
what is available
underscored linked
tells you where the link is documents
route schema
what can it do
Point is: it tells you what it is doing as a human readable description
post endpoint parameters, it will tell you all options
discoverability FTW Every WP site is discoverable!
_links tells you where things are
Can the RESTAPI do something? The answer is in the _links most likely, explains the connections of the data
if the schema says you can do it, you can write more defensive code,
this is how to get started discovering for yourself
Calderalearn is a thing

What’s The Difference Between Blogging and Content Marketing?
Kitty Lusby

I first saw Kitty Lusby speak at WordCamp LA 2016 speaking about how to be a serious blogger. It was a talk full of awesome advice straight talk, which is my favorite kind of talk. I have been following her blog ever since and was delighted to get to hear her again this year. This time she was explaining the difference between blogging and content marketing. Blogging is what I am doing here, pretty much whatever I want to say and no goal of representing a brand or goal other than to share my experiences with my future self and maybe you. Content Marketing, I think, would be the actions I would take to specifically inform you about my brand to inspire confidence enough to give my brand money in exchange for making your life better. Anyway, she says it much better than I can so watch for the video. Meanwhile here she is giving the talk from 2016

Raw notes:
A blog is not content marketing
First let’s define a brand
got a volunteer, some of us know, most do not
this is the same as a brand
we have to inform people what he is about
this is content marketing
what is this perosn about
why do we care?
hard to do
no one goes to your website because they want to give you money
they are trying to make their life better
compelling reason for giving money
go look at competitors
go to google in URL “forum” keyword
forums are the last ditch effort for customers
key to brand is finding intersection who you are, what you do and why people will give you money for value
brands evolve
personality evolves
it helps if you are a sociopath (half joking, need to pick up on other’s personality)
Speak their language – speak on their level
Remember a human is going to read it, write intelligently
Write in slang is fine, but know what it means and your audience
http://buzzsumo.com/ is not a free tool, but very awesome tool
tells her how to better market yourself
content marketing tells you how to reach these audiences
wit is good for twitter
pintrest, can read the image even with no words at all, just tells what is in it
rank better on different platforms
know how to change your content to meet the medium
pay attention to your metrics and analytics
don’t just get caught up in what the latest trends are
video for example, is labor intensive, is it for you??
if just have FB, Twitter, and website and it works, fine!
stay where you are competent and grow gradually
be careful with brand drift
drift is great if it is evolution!
But i you are getting off topic, that is bad

Using WordPress for Social Good
Devin Walker

I walked into this talk expecting to hear a bit about the non-profit space and how they are leveraging WordPress. While that was certainly part of what happened, this talked was a two fisted, no punches pulled flurry of a sermon. His first slides told folks to get off cheap hosting, use modern tools and think about things like security. The rest of the talk was best practices from design to messaging to donation plugin settings. If you are a developer working at a non-profit, you should likely show this talk to your peers.

Raw notes:
Fast talker lot of ideas
must have a solid foundations
Use managed hosting
Https, PHP7, SEO, Updates and maintenance, SEO
Recommended tools
backups, wp-timecaplse is a good one if your host is not providing it directly
ongoing maintenance
(just some really real tools talk!)
Now onto your site
First impressions
average user spends 8 seconds on a site why first impressions matter
The Jane Goodall Institute
Obama foundation
Liberty in North Korea
Effective messaging makes your org work
Deliver from multiple audience points of view
accessible and readable
screen readers
just because you can make a website, should you make a website
you need to figure out your mission before designing
wireframes balsamiq
page builders
5 years ago this would be hard to do by hand
easier now
Effective online campaigns
Donation, peer to peer fundraising
reaching out to your social network for fundraising
inventive ways to make interactive
steps program
Bethlehem theme from themeforest
recurring donations
recurring donors give 42% more than one time givers
give them way to manage donations
let them exit quickly if they want
enable donors to opt in to recurring easily
and share with friends and family
explain how your donations are going to make an impact
“$19.20 to feed and care for 10 people”
Keep people updated on how money is spent
Oxfam America is a good example
Keep it simple – reduce fields
allow customizable amounts
no distractions from the
Don’t forget mobile
accept multiple payment methods
clear terms
use properly terminology
Donation Plugins:
Seamless Donations
gravity/woo/edd can but should you?
Online donations in reach

Slow sites suck! How to speed up WordPress without touching a line of code.
Andrew Wilder

I went into this talk with a bit of skepticism. Another part of me really loves session titles like that and I knew there was either another angle here. I think performance is one of those evergreen subjects because tech keeps evolving and Google keeps changing how they measure things. I really liked this talk because it was filled with very practical, straightforward advice anyone can follow. Some things I don’t exactly agree with, like page caching with plugins, though caching all the things is a very good idea. I really liked the reinforcement, which I heard echoed in a lot of hallway talk and in a few other sessions, that you should find a quality managed host. I know one of those.

Raw notes:
Speed is super important but not sexy
people don’t wait around on sites
Simplified view of the site
to illustrate how a page loads
the waterfall
load times – every little bit adds up
Do you really need that…badge, widget, ed, etc
remove all unused everything
limit plugins
delete inactive plugins
Shrink your homepage and archive pages.
show experts at best
reduce the number of posts per page
remove social sharing from homepage
Cache all the things
optimize your images!
before uploading:
create images at the size they’ll be displayed
use JPG with compression – white with no color takes less space
use PNG for text or line art
imigify, short pixel, ewww image optimizer, kraken
Don’t use a crappy host
don’t be 1 in 1500
change servers every 3-5 years to get
new hardware SSD
New software PHP7
Use SSL!
and HTTP/2 protocol
optimize for above the fold content
Defer CSS and JS
WP rocket-Autoptimize-Above The Fold Optimization
wp-rocket can combine fonts and css and html into one file to speed it all up
use a CDN
Securi Firewall (Cloudproxy)
Page Speed Insight
don’t chase a number, use as a guide

So Easy Even A Kid Can Do It: Using WordPress as a Platform for Portfolios
Jansen Henschel

Every now and again you see a talk that blows your mind and makes you rethink some of your life choices. Jansen is an 11 year old who started his journey into WordPress 3 years earlier by attending Beginner Day. On this day he stood to teach us all in the best prepared and delivered presentation I have might of ever seen. I very much hope his talk gets on WordPress.tv, but until it does, check out his amazing videos explaining bitcoin in under 3 minutes, how the periodic table is organized, and Geneva Drives in the most elegant ways I have ever heard.

Raw notes:
Missed the first few minutes
Themes explained!
Portfolios are really designed to convince someone of something
you don’t need to do a lot to impress people, just impress yourself.
A portfolio makes it more real and expresses your ability more
Also a proof of work
people have short attention spans
three pieces of content, that is enough to convince someone of something
Don’t bury your best work, put it front and center
people are not going to spend a lot of time on your site
“People get bored easily. so don’t expect a lot out of them.”
faster sites are better
Put your best work forward, don’t bury
preview pics for vids reflect the interesting part – not the first frame
portfolios are convincing someone to do something
Don’t distract from yourself
no ads, they are not about you

Becoming a Community Builder: A WordPress Story
Raquel Landefeld

I got to see the first version of this back at WordCamp Minneapolis 2017 as a lightning talk. I was excited to hear the full version. My raw notes don’t nearly capture the talk and I thought about not posting them here, but I do think they paint the broad brush of her timeline from having an identity completely reliant on the identity of others to a self image of being part of a larger community as a leader. It is inspiring and a story I think should be heard by more people. It is a great reminder that we all have stories to share and we should be encouraging others along their journeys as well.

in her 20s
Identity directly related to others
stay at home mom
2009 economy bad, Cody, her husband, lost job
went into business for self full time
she became co-founder anf team manager
2012 – 1st WordCamp
she loved it!
was this real though?
People were just immediately interested in her as a person
open and loving
identity “wife”
then all the WCs after that!
2014 – Phoenix community
WP Meetups
Phoenix tech
Phoenix creative
2015 – 2016
local government
PTA Treasurer
Lead Organizer??
Community = people
you can have the best anything but without people. you don’t have community

My Session

Once again I got to talk about the WP-CLI, which is pretty dang cool. I discovered that my online IDE of choice, Cloud9, was suffering from this issue literally 3 days before the ticket was closed. So I downloaded the British English version of WP (en_GB) which was not affected for some reason. Good thing I spot check these things before I talk. Only other observation from this time out was that no one really asks questions during the WP-CLI talks. Everyone just wants you to show off that ‘one really cool thing I use it for’, which is the best. That also puts me on the spot, as demoing wp shell requires I know enough PHP to demo using the shell itself, which I literally never do.

No pics exists as fas as I could find on Twitter yet, if that changes, I will update this space.

Wrapping Up

I left LA more exhausted than when I showed up, which to me means I tried my best. I am not a fan of Los Angeles overall, with the traffic and the smog, yadda, yadda, yadda. But I am a huge fan of the people in the WP community in LA and those who traveld to the city of angels to take part in this camp. I can not remember a better time being in there than this trip. It was a pleasure to grow a little older and hopefully a little wiser in La La Land. Thanks LA.